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Despite not getting a particularly good time — 20:53 — thanks, largely, to a slow start and very gentle first kilometre, the rest of the run was very quick indeed and I was able to pull a lot back. Conditions were quite good and we were lucky enough to have C with us for his first parkrun.

Afterwards, A & I adjourned to D's for tea and conversation and for me to spend spent some quality time being climbed all over by Dasher. As A said at one point, Dash really is much to large to sit on my lap but that doesn't stop her trying; not least because it puts her in a perfect position to chew my ears!
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With the students back, the parkrun crowd was larger than usual. The start was slightly odd: rather than stand on the grass until the last minute before being waved onto the tarmac path, we stayed clear of the path and ony moved on to it once the whistle had gone. This seems to be a restriction placed on parkrun by the local council, presumably because the more vocal users of the path take advantage of every Saturday to complain about a few hundred runners taking over the pedestrian part of the track for an hour a week.

The run itself was OK and I finished in 20:12. I hadn't seen the others at the start, but I waited around afterwards anyway and sure enough, D came in about 5 minutes later having started at the very back. I asked her if she'd seen A, and she said not; but then a minute or so later, A powered in wearing an unmissably bright fluorescent orange top and we couldn't work out how D had missed her. The mystery was solved when A recovered enough to say that she'd started even further back than D and had spent the entire run chasing her.

I've also realised that, as of today's parkrun, I've only missed one event in the last year. I missed the run back on the 13th of May because I was in Seattle but that's been it. The run on the 9th of September didn't count due to logistical problems and I volunteered way back in December 2016, but I'm counting both of those as participation, even if they don't count towards my official run total...
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With D providing support for P, who has spent this week cycling to and from work — a hilly hundred mile round trip — and A tired after climbing, I was running on my lonesome this week. I'm not sure why — although I'm feeling slightly coldy — this week's run felt like an absolute slog even though I only managed to finish in 20:28 — a long way off my best...
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An unofficial parkrun this morning, due to problems accessing the kit storage cupboard in the climbing centre. With a full set of marshals on the course and only one minor tweak to the route — no key to the gate to Duckes Meadow — the run took place pretty much as normal, the only difference being the lack of an official time.

Arriving a little later than normal — I was a bit disorganised this morning — I met up with A and, to my surprise, J — who'd been down to run last week, but who'd had, at the last minute, to take Tiny Flo the vets. J was slightly disappointed that she wasn't going to get an official time — she said that she thought it might be her first and last run, so she wanted it to count! — but I suggested that it was actually a pretty good start, allowing her to do run and get used to the crowd without the pressure of having to perform.

Lacking any particular reason to hurry, I pottered around the course at a very easy pace. Around the first kilometre mark, John Caswell, a stalwart of the local running scene tapped my elbow and suggested we both go for a personal worst! We then sauntered round the course, chattering away — neither of us was so out of breath that we couldn't hold a normal conversation. Towards the very end, we started close the gap with the pair of runners in front; then, as we hit 500 metres to go, John slid between them and moved on up the course. I put on a very resigned tone of voice and said to the couple in front, "Oh no! Now he's done that, I suppose I'm going have to do it too..." They both chuckled and I slipped by to finish in 22 minutes flat.

I left my watch running once I'd reached the usual finishing line and timed the others in. A finished in around 25:10 or so — easily another PB — and J finished around the 29:20 mark — solidly respectable for a first go and almost exactly in line with her expectations.

Although I'm not sure I'd want to do it every week — I need the tyranny of the stopwatch to prevent me from slacking — I thoroughly enjoyed today's run. I think it's real credit to the marshals and the run director that they went ahead, despite the problems, and it's nice that all the runs went ahead and ran anyway, despite the lack of times; I suppose it just goes to underline the spirit of parkrun as a community rather than just a timed run.
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As per the plan, a group from yesterday's wedding party met up at 08:50 ready for the usual Saturday Riverside parkrun. Sadly, I quickly discovered that neither Jo nor Ceri had made it — not entirely unexpected, given that Jo had been working through a laundry list of excuses the night before. Alice soon filled us in on the details: Tiny Flo, had been taken ill while staying with the grandparents, so J&C had gone over at dawn to take her to the vets and weren't going to be back in time.

We arrived in time for the briefing and after the usual safety announcements, John Caswell, this week's run director, called Phil and Donna forward while we cheered their newly married status. No-one has admitted to tipping them off — both A and I thought about it, but neither of us actually did it — but it was a nice touch, especially with Donna being one of the weekly stalwarts of Riverside.

Talking amongst ourselves beforehand, we agreed that there were no constraints and we were free to set whatever pace we liked. I'd half-planned to do it with the others — P&D were tied together at the wrist! — but when the time came, I got the bit between my teeth and pulled away from the others, finishing in 20:10 and respectable 15th place out of 343. Alan and Cate also split off and finished midway up the field, with the others just sneaking in ahead of the 30 minute pacer.

Afterwards, we met bridesmaids Lucy and Holly (who was pregnant to run) at the finish and agreed to meet up at around 10:00 for breakfast/brunch at the Welcome Cafe. I dropped in on P&D for tea, and, embarrassingly, to ask for a loan, having thought, as per the original schedule, I'd have time to rush home for money & return in time for brunch at 11. This also gave Dasher the opportunity to clamber all over me and give me a good whiff of stinky canal dog, whilst also trying to slurp my ears off the sides of my head. Lovely!

With a few things sorted, we headed back to the cafe and, after some fussing with tables, got ourselves settled. Those who'd been there on Monday ordered almost exactly the same things again — they really were that good — with the new arrivals taking our lead. Partway through, Jo and Ceri arrived to complete the party, bearing the news that Flora was OK but under orders to rest and recoup for a few days.
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Hot and humid this morning with a big bank holiday field, but still managed an OK time and decent enough place. Rather to my amusement, this week's top 30 finishers showed a strange cluster of names: six people called either Sam or Samuel.

With D busy with wedding errands — a couple of other regulars were running in veils and bride-to-be sashes — it was just me and A this week — with A picking up another PB. Next week we're hoping for a bigger group: the plan is for P&D's wedding party to turn up for parkrun; I know some people have been practicing their distance running, ready for the day-after-the-big-day.
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Decentish run this morning, although conditions weren't ideal with an unpleasant headwind on the return leg. With D busy with errands this morning — a combination of family moving house and forthcoming wedding stuff — it was down to A and me to hold the fort. I managed a slow-but-acceptable 20:42 while A smashed something like 80 seconds off her time from last week.
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Reasonbly quick one this week, finishing 20th in a time of 20:08. There was a good turnout of 323 runners and A managed her first parkrun since having surgery a few months ago, finishing in a very creditable 28 minutes. Afterwards, I went and got myself well and truly chewed by Dasher — she made a determined effort to eat my ears! — and then it was home and out again for an afternoon climb.
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Ran at the Memorial Park this weekend and managed to finish in the low thirties but, thanks to a scanning glitch, I can't be precise about the time other than to say somewhere around 20:45. It was a nice run, although I haven't done it regularly enough to have a good feel for the hills, so I generally slow down more than I should on the downhill sections. My dad came to watch and I saw him at the entrance to the playing field on my first loop, but despite some enthusiastic waving, he didn't seem to see me. Then, only my second lap, I saw him come up the hill from Coat of Arms bridge towards the perimeter path and, despite yet more waving, he didn't seem to notice me. After finishing and getting scanned — or not, as it turns out! — I waited around for my dad to show up. I allowed him 15 minutes for the walk to the monument and, when he didn't arrive, I ran back home. Sure enough he was there, telling the others that I must've gone in for some last minute marshalling because he hadn't seen me on the way round. Typical! ETA: the Coventry parkrun office have now fixed my missing entry so I can now legitimately claim this as my 79th run.
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Pleasantly gentle run this morning coming in 25th and in 20:18 — not bad, considering the heat. But with the warm weather and with the path still narrowed due to the on-going flood defence work, there have been more problems than usual with contention on the shared pathway.

The section around the start is particularly problematic. Not do a large group of people start at the same time, but they funnel through a narrow section between two temporary chainlink barriers which connects the canal path to the start of the divided bike-and-pedestrian path that runs along the edge of the flood channel. The path is supposedly temporary, although it's been there for almost a year, and consequently it's made of packed but uneven unmetalled aggregate, giving it a worryingly undercertain feel under foot and tire.

Even at the best of times, the rights of way across the path are unclear — although D says it explicitly isn't part of the cycle path. It's always hard to navigate, with pedestrians walking on either side as if it were completely pedestrianised, some cyclists sticking to the left as though they were on the road, and others sticking to the side that matches the cycle part of the divided path that runs along the channel.

Usually people — both runners and cyclists — slow down and make their intentions clear when they approach, making collision avoidance easier. But every so often, as just after the start of this morning's parkrun, you get a someone — in this case a cyclist riding in north-west against the general flow — who just bowls on through.

You'd think common sense, along with the notions of self-preservation and of decency towards one's fellow path users, would suggest giving way but obviously not in some cases. And as for the person who, a few weeks ago, was trying to ride a motor scooter along a later section of what is clearly marked as a pedestrian path, the less said the better!

Granted it's annoying to have to give way to other people, but it's one of the most fundamental aspects of living a civilised existence that you cannot always do exactly what you want, when you want, and damn the consequences. As Robert Nozick says somewhere: your right to swing your fist ends where it intersects with my face.
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Good, solid run this morning, finishing 14 out of 294 in a slightly frustrating time of 20:01. On the home straight, heading into the wind, I paced with a couple of other guys and while I thought I could probably accelerate a bit, I wasn't sure what they wanted to do and didn't want to get in the way. When the path widened, I moved out and back to give them room to get by and really speed up if they wanted to; but they both indicated that they were fine with things as they were, so I crammed on a bit of speed and caught up the person in front. When we finished I shook hands with them and the person who'd been behind me said, "Thanks for opening to door to let me pass, but when I knocked on it, nobody was there to answer it!"

I obviously hadn't given it my all because I was able to run down to the climbing centre, get myself scanned, and then run on to D&P's place round the corner for tea. Just before setting out, I'd had a couple of texts from D to say that she'd found a stray dog — not quite stray, because it had tags, but it'd obviously been living round the side of one of her neighbour's houses for a little while — and was waiting for the dog warden, and wasn't sure whether she was going to make it. I promised to drop in afterwards and, when I didn't see her at the start, I decided that she'd probably been tired up with dog stuff.

Sure enough, the warden had found a gap in his schedule that precisely matched parkrun and had come round to pick up the missing dog. At the time, neither of them had been able to get through to the number on the tag but when I was there, the person called D back and she passed the message on to the dog warden. Hopefully that means that by now the pooch has been reunited with her owner...
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With the others away this week — either on-call or at Glastonbury — and with E taking it easy after picking up a minor shoulder tweak, it was down to me to run solo. Happy, I bumped into FG at the briefing and we got talking about times and conditions and I said I was sure he'd make his target time of 20 minutes. As we made it to the start, I got talking to MB who was pacing 30 minutes, and didn't really worry too much about getting to the front.

Despite being cooler than last week, the humidity felt much higher and conditions weren't exactly ideal for a super-fast time, so I started gently and sped up towards the middle. As I hit the last klick, I started to catch up with F and we pulled each other along and I finished in 20:23 after confusing the total distance field on my watch with my current pace and suddenly cranking up the speed. Still finished 19th out of a field of 235 — much smaller than last week — and managed to get to the Quay quickly enough that I was only the second person to get my barcode scanned.
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Back to Exeter this week for a warm morning run at Riverside. Having recovered from last week L was there without his canine running buddy, and, as a particularly pleasant surprise, P was there for his first run in a few months.

Despite having planned to start slow, my first kilometre came out quicker than expected and I decided, based on last week's evidence from Killerton that my normal pace is quite a long way off my fastest, to push on at more or less the same speed and to see where it got me. Rather to my surprise, it saw me finish in 19:42, enough to put me 11th out of a field of 301 people, and, when I checked my splits, I found my final kilometer had come it at around a 3:46 pace.

Despite being reasonably sure I'd done well, I didn't say much to the others except to confirm where I'd come — nobody likes a boaster! — and we adjourned round the corner for tea. Dash was very pleased to see me, especially since I'd missed her last week, and within seconds of me sitting down on the floor, she climbed all over me and generally asserted her claim of ownership. After a pleasant slice of morning, L's car parking expired and I got a lift home — carrying a punnet of home-grown raspberries! — obviating the need for my least favourite bit of parkrun: the uphill run back home.
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With D away on a pre-wedding event this morning, I hatched a plan to meet up with E and run at Killerton. And because dogs are allowed there, L decided to being Kira along for a spot of exercise. Once there, we discovered that JF was the week's run director — I subsequently discovered it was his first time and he said it was pretty stressful but got easier once everything was in motion — and lurked around at the start waiting for the off.

I didn't get going particularly cleanly: I forgot to start my watch and had to pause to unlock it before setting it off, so I decided to run the first kilometre or so with E. Once I started to feel warmed up, I began to crank the pace and started overtaking people. Unfortunately, the paths made it hard to pass people without being a total jerk about it, so I kept on varying my pace until we got to the lane at the mid-point, where I really accelerated.

I finished in a very slow 21:41 (my watch, which excluded the time I'd spent fussing about at the start, told me I'd finished in a bit over 21 minutes) but when I reviewed my lap times afterwards, I discovered that my pace over the back part of the course had been extremely fast indeed, which explains how I was able to claw quite so much time back and why I was still overtaking people right up to the finish.

Talking to L after the finish, I gathered that he'd had a tough time and his running partner hadn't been on her best behaviour. And as if to illustrate the point, she somehow managed to tear the attachment point off her harness and dash off towards another dog. L got her back under control very quickly — and the other dog-owner was very nice about it — but he decided he was too frazzled to stay.

E and I set ourselves up at one of the tables in the stable courtyard and settled down for tea. We were joined by a couple who were looking after a lovely little rescue terrier — they said she was some sort of staffie cross — for the weekend and had taken her round parkrun. They said they'd seen Kira — L said something about her growling at a terrier — but they too were very nice about the problems of having a rescue dog, especially when it's as large as a huskie.

Afterwards, we took a spin around the plant section of the NT shop to allow E to check out the dahlias — she was mainly interested in the various purple-shaded bishop cultivars, which she reckoned would suit her current planting scheme. With the weather still slightly overcast and uncertain, we called it a morning and headed home.
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A good one this morning: despite a gentle start, I stormed home in 20:05 and finished 19th — a sure sign that the university term has finished. E ran at Killerton for the first time in a month or two and managed to come within 30 seconds of her PB — a very solid result...
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Up and out for a very humid run this morning — despite the forecast predicting a modest chance of rain this morning, we had nothing, with most of the moisture well and truly stuck in the atmosphere. Despite wearing my sleeveless top for the first time this year — I always have to aclimatise myself to the way my ponytail slaps me on the shoulders when the sleaves go — I was still so sweltering I had to take off my sunglasses partway through.

Once again, with the course more constricted and constrained than usual, I started slow and cranked up the pace to finish in an adequate 20:32. The course was slightly longer than normal — the marshals respsonsible for the field section had been extremely diligent and marked it out so that it went right into the very corners, erroring on the side of too long rather than too short; a decision I very much agree with!

Despite it being my 70th run, I can't feel too smug: there was someone there celebrating their 400th run! An amazing achievement. Looking at their recent runs, it looks like they're doing a grand tour, running at a different place every weekened, with Exeter happening to coincide with one of their big numbers. And rather charmingly, they'd brought along cake to celebrate!
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According to my calculations, since this time last year — when I recovered from an ITB problem that had been plaguing me for a couple of months — I've only missed three parkruns: two in October 2016 when I was in Greece and one last weekend when I was in Seattle. But other that, I've run every week. Not wanting to tempt fate too badly, I reckon that puts me on course for my hundreth at around the end of December or possibly very early January 2018. Go me!

With that on the record, its time to get back to today's run. Having had a couple of weeks of heavy duty running and with yet more flood defence work limiting the width of the path, I wasn't expecting much from today's run. I started very slowly but after catching up with D at the bridge, I cranked the pace and finished in a respectable 20:23.
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A big field this morning — well over 400 — and rather haphazard start. I was so far back I didn't even hear the countdown. It took me a good few seconds to start my watch, and even then I noticed I spent a good 6-8 seconds waiting for the group to start moving.

Despite the slow start, I managed to pull things back and finished in 20:33 and completing the last kilometre at a 3:40 pace — I was very determined I wasn't going to finish in more than 21 minutes and because I wasn't precisely sure how much time I'd lost at the start, I wanted to be sure I was well under the cut-off.
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A slightly slower run this week, finishing in a decent enough 20:23 — in line with my predictions beforehand.

Waiting around for the start, I bumped into EB whom I hadn't seen for a while. I asked her how she was getting on and discovered that she was recovering from a stress fracture picked up during the half-marathon back in February. She said that she'd felt something go around the third mile but had pushed on anyway, and despite her injury, she'd still managed to knock ten minutes off her PB.
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A surprisingly quick run, finishing in 19:58 after I noticed my watch ticking down towards the magic twenty minute barrier as I was approaching the end and made the decision to blitz it.


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